Thursday, April 14, 2016

Our new home in San Ramon

Moving finally—my mountain home in San Ramon

So it looks like we are finally going to move… Our new spot is ¼  of the space of the old one.  But how much do we need.  No pub this time—well we will have a pub but not a business.  And no pool—but we will have a hot tub and a maybe a gas fireplace. 

ReMax was the company that finally helped us.  The article that I posted on this blog last year got the attention of a potential buyer who was looking in Tamarindo for a pub—and fell in love with the Black Sheep.  Of course it was not a straight forward path and when she faltered we almost sold to a “savvy group of investors’ as they called themselves—they backed out and Kerri came back.   
She and her friends stayed with us for a few days before making an offer.  This is common here.  What is not to love here?  The pristine surroundings. The breathtaking views. The “lord of the rings”-like clouds touching down on the mountains during the rainy season.  This is our favorite time where everything greens out with more shades of color than Ireland.. The sunny season with the planeloads of tourist on vacation is exciting in a different way.  Lots of businesses open for “the season.” Everyone comes to the Black Sheep and it has been fantastic for us to meet so many people over the past 10 years.  I will miss it all and we are ready for a change.

Since moving here I have reconfigured my psychiatric nursing career and I like working locum tenens.  I find psychiatry jobs in the States, and I diagnose, treat, and prescribe medications to a wide range of people.  I have a good foundation in this work from my education and years in Boston.  I find it very rewarding to work as a provider and to not work all the time.   I am always appreciated and the money helps of course.  Joe tells me I cannot continue this forever and I tell him about the 80 year old psychiatrist I met in New Hampshire and Joe says “he does not live in Costa Rica.”  I have at least 10 more years in me.  More if I continue to do Yoga.

Our original plan was not for me to be gone ½ the year.  But we didn’t have as much money as we thought and over time it became more expensive here. We are fortunate I have this skill and my career is in great demand in the states right now.  “It’s all good” has become my motto.
I most recently worked in Oregon working in Geriatric Psychiatry.  I have several specialties now.  We had  our final St Patrick ’s Day bash, and now for the packing and move.

We have started renting our new spot in the mountains.  We will buy when our current house closes- scheduled for Sept 1st.  We visited last week and will go again next week… another chapter in our lives coming up..

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Joe is featured in ad for the Black Sheep

Attention Pub lovers – Nosaras most famous nightspot is on the market

IMG_3869-2During it’s relatively short lifespan The Black Sheep has taken on mythical status among both long time locals, and tourists arriving for the first time wide eyed in appreciation of what can accurately be labeled one of the most unique and quirky pubs on the planet. Since its inception in 2006 The Black Sheep has played host to multitudes of people looking for a great time and a great pint of beer. Not long ago The Black Sheeps owners Joe and Helena Wygal placed The Black Sheep on the market. Before its creators say their final farewell the Nosara Real Estate Report sat down with them to get the truth behind the myth of this legendary watering hole in the Jungle of Nosara.
Black sheep owner Joe at home doing what he loves best
“In the early days I used to go to hang out at the Plough and Stars in Cambridge, Masachussets” says Joe. “It was a cool place anyway but what really made it was the people – working class kids who’d made it to Harvard and MIT. One night I met a German girl whom I dated for a while. In 1983 we took a trip to Europe. The first real English pub I ever saw was St James Place in London and that began a lifelong love affair with British pub culture. We left for Germany where I was struck by the culture of real ale and just how serious they are about making high quality beer. I returned to the States at a time when the microbrewery craft beer revolution was taking place on the East coast. Breweries started popping up everywhere which did wonders for the quality of ale being served up and down East coast bars and pubs. I got involved in the beer festivals, and in 1989 after meeting my wife Helena we made our first trip to Costa Rica. We fell in love with the country and came back whenever we could.”
IMG_3871-2“I’d always been a huge fan of pubs, and when Helena and I bought our first house in 1994 I built a pub inside my house in Somervile Massachussetts which I named the Arbor Ale House. It was strictly for friends and some of the parties we had in that place have gone down in local folklore. After having worked in the brewing industry throughout the years I’d become acquainted with many people in the craft brewery movement. Brewers from all over the country would come stay with Helena and I. We’d drink real ale in the pub I’d built and acquaintances would turn into friends overnight. These were truly memorable times.”
asdv“Around 2002 we took our fourth trip to Costa Rica and discovered Nosara. After immediately falling in love we came back two months later and bought property here. We planned to move down permanently 3 years later. In the meantime I knew that if I was moving to Costa Rica I’d have to take my love of the craft ale scene with me, and spent my days sourcing the best craft beer in the world. I had a whole bunch of pub paraphernalia that I’d collected from all over the world – chairs, tables, beer mats, glasses etc. Many of the things you see in The Black Sheep now were transported down from my house in the states.”
bs12“I then realized if I was going to open a pub in Costa Rica I had to come up with a name. I’ve been known as the black sheep of my family all my life and that’s where the name was born. We opened in February 2006 and did our first NYE party that year. Up until then St Patricks Day was unheard of in Guanacaste so I don’t think it’s inaccurate to claim that The Black Sheep was single-handedly responsible for bringing the St Patricks Day celebrations to this part of the world.”
asdvzxc“I’ve so many great memories of everything that’s happened here that to pick a single one seems impossible. In the end it comes down to the people, and being the owner of the Black Sheep has been a conduit for being introduced to some of the most interesting people I could ever hope to meet.”jhg“People are often amazed when they walk in for the first time. One woman described it as a ‘shangri la’. Although The Black Sheep does well for itself we never set it up with the intention of turning a profit. It was always a labour of love, and although its not in my nature to be proud of myself I’m happy with what we did and I’m kind of amazed that we did it. The biggest compliment is when people from Europe, particularly from the United Kingdom come in and remark how great it is, and what a great job I’ve done of recreating, and even surpassing the feel of a true British pub. To this I often answer simply that “it is not a replica, it’s a tribute.”
If you’re interested in taking the reins of this fabled Nosara Villa and nightspot (with incredible potential for hosting retreat groups) click here for the Nosara Real Estate Report listing or get in touch now to find out how to be a part of the ongoing Black sheep story.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pura Vida in My Backyard

March 2014-Pura vida in my back yard
When we bought our property as raw land 8 years ago it was hilly and overgrown.  Just under 2 acres with no driveway, John was often riding his bulldozer carving  out the sites for our house, pool, walkways, etc.  It was all jungle.  When John finished the pool and deck and the place was fairly livable, he moved on and over time we discovered our private paradise.
We often sat on the terrace looking at the ocean.  Joe would look straight ahead at all the trees and remarked that the trees were like a curtain—there is something back there, he said.  We eventually uncovered a large peaceful scenic view of the valley and the river. 
We always thought our property was not fully usable.  We built where we could on the top flat part and the rest went down the back.  Joe noticed that during the rainy season he could hear sounds of  rushing water down in the unusable gully.  This year we decided to check it out.  We hired  a couple of  local  Ticos to make us a nature trail. 
They used wood we had in the garage and cut a few small trees sparingly and used that wood to shape the trail.  They also built us a bridge and two benches.  Now we wait for the rainy season.  We will have a creek and a couple of places to sit as it streams by.  Pura vida in our back yard

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Expat Living--New Years 2014

Our first New Years here in 2006, Joe and I spent the evening driving around with an English couple looking for "the party".  We found a few gatherings but no real party.    Now every year at this time we prepare for the party season: New Years Eve, the Black Sheep Anniversary party and then St Patrick's Day.  We look for workers, buy beer, hire bands, send out invitations and hope people will come.   For this New Years eve, we will have 2 bands from San Jose, food by Big Tony, and Fireworks at midnight.  This is also the beginning of the high season with blue skies, sunny weather and planeloads of tourists coming down to escape the cold weather. Happy New Year..

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Expat living: Our new deck in Paradise

Here is our new deck.   We had a lap pool and deck built as part of the original construction eight years ago. I my refreshing mid-day swim and then rinsing off under the out door shower in the jungle.  However, the pool has given us some challenges, particularly leaks in pipes cemented into the concrete.  The pipes connect to the pump in the bodega on the lower level and we would know there was a leak when the bodega flooded.  We fixed all this but  but before the pipe problem there was a deck problem.  When we originally built we wanted a red cement deck. We thought it would be easy for the workers to dye the concrete.  But when they mixed the dye with the concrete, it came out pink.  To give us the deep red deck we wanted, the workers mixed the dye with a small amount of water and poured the deep red paste on top of the concrete.  This temporarily gave us the color we wanted.  Unfortunately, when the dye dried, it degenerated into a powder which was blown around by the wind forming a red dust.  By then we had the puppies who ran around in the dust leaving red paw prints everywhere including on our guests' tropical clothes.  The puppies were covered with dust so they looked pink. Sometimes people would sit on the side of the pool and their light color clothes became streaked with red.  This went on for a couple of years and as the dust blew away, the deck went back to pink.  We began painting the deck every year but it easily became streaked with chlorine and dirt from peoples' shoes.  Now!  Finally!  we have tiled the deck.  Joe designed it and we expect it will last for a long time.  Our beautiful lap pool is framed by natural looking tiles along the length of the pub.  Pura vida!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Back to Paradise

Back to Paradise September 2013
We had 15 people up last night for a beer tasting.  Joe joined me in the states and picked up several bottles of  craft beers and he was eager to share.  It was a great evening.  Beer samples and Irish car bombs and the occasional mixed drink or draft beer.  I was well able to bartend. The group who came up were mostly locals—people who own property or people who work here.  Andres, our lawyer friend organized the group.  It is the rainy season here. No tourists. Tourists come when it is sunny with blue skies.  Now it is lush foliage with more shades of green than Ireland, and wispy clouds which come down over  the mountains across the valley.   For those who live here the rainy season is the best..not October when we have floods and landslides..but the other 5 months.  The area is deserted which makes for a pleasant communion with nature and the on and off rain keeps the temperatures in the 80’s, and there is no dust which makes it all seem so clean.
I worked in New Hampshire for 9 weeks when Joe came over.  We did a road trip to upstate NY to see his family stopping by Brattleboro VT to visit with our friend beer legend Ray McNeill.  I was only in Nosara for 10 days before going off to my current assignment in Minnesota.  It sounds hectic and in some ways it is but it bring in the money and the work is interesting.  Since I had been in Minnesota before and felt somewhat acclimated, I was hoping to make some day trips to “the cities”, as they call Minneapolis and Saint Paul, but now that I am here, it is just too cold and I don’t have anyone to hang out with this time.
 Joe is getting on well on his own.  We have discovered Facetime andVsee so we have the video and it is free.  The video is amazing—like being there in person.  
We have more neighbors on the hill now.  I went walking, actually hiking, with Lena, our Swedish neighbor with the spectacular round house with 360 degree view up a ways from us.  We hiked on the finca roads which are like trails and we looked at people’s houses who are away. Besides being an interesting person, she brings us her business skills, helping us organize the collection of money to pay the water bill.  We have one well for the families.  And we all need water.  Down in the project (the tourist area on the beach), they used so much water during the high season that  water had to be rationed.  It was shut off several hours per day by rotation.  We have had some problems up here with leaks and finding the leaks which can be under the concrete.   So paradise has its own set of issues.
Now it is almost November and I am back to paradise in four weeks.  Yay.. My Minnesota job is terrific and I am lucky to have it.  This is the forensic hospital.  I treat patients on two units and I am learning a lot.  And I cant wait to be back to tropical Nosara..with Joe and the dogs and Ainsely and the pub.Pura vida.  Love Joe and Helena

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Costa Rica June 2013

Expat living—June 2013.
Always on vacation here in Costa Rica.  No structure, no working,  Just house stuff, recreational, leisure,  inner life,  the jungle, nature, other people on vacation or just living and workers we hire.   I came back from Minnesota and was sick for a week—stomach bug—I who never gets sick got sick.  I guess the stress of traveling and change lowered my resistance, but just for a week  The worst part was the low energy. 
We have had two parties.  Joe’s birthday and a benefit for the volunteer firefighters.  We had some great music for the benefit.  Our friends, rock group Mumbleriot, played and we also had a 2 person girl-group, ColorNoise, guitar and drums, punk rock I guess, talented and great to talk with.  Having the pub, we get to meet people like this. So cool!
Joe is now on Facebook—finally!!  He got up to 50 friends very quickly, and he has a lot of interests—music, film, history, beer so once he finds the pages, he will get very connected.  We have a nice quiet life together up here.  I think we appreciate our time here since I am away 4-6 months per year.  But when I am here I am here all the time.  I don’t think it is too bad—but Joe does.
We are still hoping to move.  We went to Arenal last week to look at a more economical option.  Two storage units on 1 ½ acres.  The storage units would become the pub and we would have to build…I can’t imagine a better house than this one but we will find one.  And our water and electricity would be less. We would spend less on car repairs. And once we pay off the credit cards, it will be easy street.  We just have to sell here.  The right person who wants to live in Paradise…
I will be off to New Hampshire soon..only two months.  Then later in the year I have another two month gig in Minnesota—the small price of living in Paradise..